By Elisabeth Brigham By Elisabeth Brigham | November 28, 2022 | Food & Drink Lifestyle
From business mantras to the best ways to beat the stress, Free Range Kitchen's co-owner Robin Humble shares her Basalt insider secrets.
This midvalley mountain town delivers on everything arts, adventure and angling.
Looking for the perfect mountain town to fulfill your dream of a rustic, fishing-filled vacation? Look no further than Basalt, the midvalley area’s response to the glitz and glamour of its neighboring towns. Founded as a railroad junction during the silver rush, the town’s humble roots shine through in its contemporary lifestyle.
Nothing can be written about Basalt without mention of the town’s fishing scene. Home to 36 miles of anglers paradise, the Fryingpan River offers trout in such abundance that even the most novice fisher would be hard-pressed to not come home with a meal. The downtown area offers a wide variety of angler shops to any fisher looking to improve his or her skills with the advice of some of Basalt’s seasoned pros.
To top it all off, Basalt’s lineup of extraordinary cuisine and culture scenes continues to grow in the downtown area. A gem of the arts community, The Art Base serves as a cultural and social hub for the town’s residents and tourists alike while simultaneously promoting the valley’s talented artists, while galleries like the Ann Korologos Gallery boast an eclectic collection of art and exhibits.
Although the outside world has begun to creep into the town, Basalt’s history and heart remain intact with the breathtaking mountain views and traditional mining-style buildings.
Whether you’re spending the day on the river or strolling downtown, Basalt invites locals and tourists alike to celebrate the town. Come see what the midvalley really has to offer. What you find might surprise you.
Free Range Kitchen co-owner
Robin and Steve Humble
With over 30 years in the restaurant business, both Robin Humble and her husband, Steve, know exactly what they’re bringing to the table. After running a world-class wine program and the catering department at the Roaring Fork Club and managing the James Beard nominated restaurant Renaissance together, Robin and Steve took on an even bigger feat: opening their own project, Free Range Kitchen. After a battle with breast cancer, Robin took a deep dive into the food system and began practicing a more holistic approach with safer products and cleaner food. Now, that concept has made its way onto the plates at Free Range Kitchen, with creative, farm-fresh food. Here, we check in with the foodie on her favorite Basalt finds and flavors.
Are there any new menu items for the upcoming season that you would like to highlight?
We always make seasonal changes to our menu while keeping our ‘staple’ dishes. Chef Kam is excited about his fall menu ideas and is hinting at a roasted duck dish with gooseberries as well as elk tenderloin carpaccio and local butternut squash gnocchi.
What is your mantra when it comes to your business?
We hire based on everyone’s good energy, attitudes and smiles. We want a place that everyone likes coming to work, a place where they enjoy and care about each other. When that is true, it shows and is contagious. Our employees truly care about our wonderful customers too. The vibe and energy in Free Range are as important to us as the food. We believe in supporting local Colorado farmers and creating seasonal menus using humanely raised meats without added hormones. Nothing too fancy, just quality, innovative comfort food.
Is there anything new or upcoming for Free Range Kitchen that you would like to buzz?
When we decided to build the new space, we knew the park was being developed. We are very excited to see it come together! We love getting to see rafters floating down the Roaring Fork River from our deck, as well as everyone walking their dogs on the beautiful footpath by the river. By next summer, the town of Basalt (the chamber) is planning concerts in the band shell that is to be completed this fall. We can’t wait to see the park completed and everyone enjoying the open space and music by the river from our patio.
Describe your ideal day in Basalt.
When we have a day off, we love to get into the wilderness. Whether hiking with our dogs on one of the many local trails, going up to Ruedi to paddleboard or taking our double kayak on the river, we never lose gratitude for our amazing backyard. We love to bike and climb too. But when it’s been a really busy week, we also like to just invite some friends over to our house for a silly, fun game of pickleball right on our street.
What is your favorite season in Basalt and why?
We actually love winter. Although Basalt is a fly-fishing destination, there is so much to do in the winter, even fishing for those brave enough. We love to take our dogs backcountry skiing. We love hiking in the snow. And last year we even skied on Ruedi Reservoir with our dogs, once the lake was fully frozen. It was magical. To be honest, we love all the seasons and are grateful we get to enjoy them all. (After a long winter, the summer season is much appreciated.)
What’s a locals’ favorite way to beat stress?
When life gets really heavy or stressful, we disappear into the mountains. The ability to do so every day can easily be taken for granted when living here for 30 years. But COVID really created a deeper sense of gratitude for us. It’s the best way we know to clear your head and for a little while forget about the never-ending trials and worries of owning a small business. The options are endless... paddleboard, raft, fish, walk, run, bike, hike, climb, ski, backcountry ski, huts trips, snowshoe. We live in the most amazing place for being outside year-round. Getting outside keeps us sane.
What is Basalt’s best-kept secret?
Basalt has a pretty amazing restaurant scene. From small casual spots to fine dining, there are so many great, locally owned options. We have so many who tell us they choose to come downvalley more and more often to dine now. They appreciate the warm, friendly vibe and more affordable options. I guess the secret is getting out.
Photography by: From top: PHOTO BY: SAMANTHA SHEPPARD/UNSPLASH; PHOTO BY: MATT SNELL